VETS: Keith Harkins makes Noosa Today News

Keith Harkins made the Noosa Today News after a great round with the Vets.

When Keith Harkins was just a lad growing up on the NSW side of the Murray River, he earned $1.50 a nine for raking the sand greens at Tocumwal golf course.  A few years later he was at the wheel of a borrowed Ditch Witch, digging trenches for irrigation at a course that is now renowned as one of the finest regional tracks in the country.

When he started playing golf at a course he helped to build, Keith would go head to head with his best mate Mark Kelly, who he beat to take the 1975 Tocumwal C grade championship. A year later Mark reversed the result, narrowly beating Keith for the club’s B grade championship.

Fast forward nearly 50 years and the two lifelong friends are still slugging it out on the fairways – only this time at Cooroy.

And they’re no longer just friends. Along the way Mark met and married Keith’s sister Kate, and they’re now brothers-in-law. But they’re still playing great golf.

A fortnight ago five-handicapper Mark scored 39 points to take Division 1 of Cooroy’s Saturday competition. A few days later, in the veterans’ Wednesday Monthly Medal, Keith went around in 75 – his best ever score.

Though his net 66 was an outstanding result it wasn’t good enough to take the A grade trophy. He was beaten on a countback by fellow veteran Bob Noble.

“I didn’t care, though,” said Keith, who turned 65 just two days before the event. “It was just great to play well.”

He put his extraordinary round down to simply swinging slower.

“I’ve been swinging too hard and rocking forward onto my toes” he said. “I decided to swing at about 80 percent and the difference was truly amazing.”

Keith spent most of his working life as an engineer in the food industry, including 22 years in Brisbane. Like many parents, he pretty much gave golf away while his family was growing up, though he became a member of Redland Bay and, later, Brisbane Golf Club.

When he retired and moved to the Sunshine Coast five years ago, he joined Cooroy, where he says he’s made some great friends, and been able to renew his rivalry with his brother-in-law, with whom he plays most Saturdays.

“I’ve got to admit, though, that being off eight makes it pretty difficult for me to beat him,” Keith said.